Blog: On saunas and other things I can’t afford

In de sauna denkt blogger Luuk na over ‘het starterspakket voor volwassenheid’
Luuk Slegers

I’m sweating. We’re sitting in what looks like a giant barrel lying on its side. It’s over 90 degrees, and that’s okay. In the reddish hue of the fire, my friend bends over, grabs the coarse artisanal wooden spoon and scoops up some water from a wooden bucket. We watch in silent suffering as she slowly pours the water over the hot stones on top of the furnace. The water hisses on the stones as it evaporates on contact. Almost instantaneously, I’m hit by a wall of hot, humid air. I rest my elbows on my knees. I sweat aggressively, but it makes little difference.

After some more minutes, I give in to my survival instincts and rush out through the door, quickly closing it behind me. I sigh at the relief of the cold air on my skin. There I stand for a second, butt-naked, evaporating. I’m in the middle of a garden, the common garden of some 70 people living together in some co-housing setup in Wageningen. It looks nice. I’m sheltered by natural wooden fencing and undergrowth meant to protect the sauna, and especially the sweaty naked creatures that dwell there, from the prying eyes of the families living around the field. Or maybe to protect the prying eyes of the families from the slippery nudity in all shapes and sizes that frequent the sauna. I can see their windows, though, so if they’d be so inclined…

There I stand for a second, butt-naked, evaporating, in the middle of a garden

I walk over to the shower. I hesitate, watching the steam rise from my arms. I whisper some encouragement to myself and turn on the icy water overhead.

Later we are sitting with my friend in her living room, overlooking the sauna. My friend is throwing together a quick soup before curfew. I walk around swirling my wine, as one does when inspecting another person’s living room. She used to live with us but, no longer being a student, was forced out of our building to continue her life somewhere else. Now here she lives, still among hippies but more serious hippies. Hippies with children, dogs and jobs, and a very nice sauna.

I’m 26, I’ve achieved very little by most definitions of achievement

I’m 26, I’ve achieved very little by most definitions of achievement, a lot by some more niche definitions. When I see this housing setup, though it is an attractive setup, it still feels like you get an adulthood starter pack: You get a house, so you get bills, and taxes, so you get a job, maybe a partner and/or a dog. It’s a life, but I fear such a life would start living me rather than the other way around. I, personally, like being in between, neither studying nor working. It’s usually not very comfortable, but it forces me to make up my own life. I believe that, when living, it is better not to make too much sense. Maybe I’ll study again, but maybe I’ll become a priest, or steal for a living, maybe I’ll start my own society. Or maybe I’ll become a child again, being a child was also nice.

Luuk Slegers is masterstudent Internationale Ontwikkeling, richting Sociologie, en woont in Wageningen op Droevendaal met zijn vijf huisgenoten. Hij gaat graag ’s morgens een stuk wandelen in het Bennekomse bos.

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